Baldwin Accuses News Corp of Censoring Joke on Murdoch

There is an interesting censorship allegation this week after Alec Baldwin walked out on the Emmy telecast in response to the decision by News Corp to cut a joke about CEO Rupert Murdoch and the expanding phone-hacking scandal. Comedians have always been a central part of political speech in the United States as have cartoonists and others who use art or prose to address matters of public interest. The alleged censorship of the material by Fox or News Corp shows, at very best, a lack of judgment by company officials and attorneys.

Baldwin had already recorded the opening segment when he learned that the joke was cut. He wisely withdrew and the company got Leonard Nimoy to retape the segment. I wonder if Nimoy was informed of the reason for the sudden opening.

News Corp immediately denied that it had made the decision and insisted it was done by Fox — though few would find that distinction significant. It is remarkably dim-witted. Fox insists that it simply considered the joke in bad taste. I find that a bit unconvincing that one joke was found in bad taste and it just happened to be about the owner. While this is entertainment, there remains an expectation of free speech and artistic license. It is not a contractually enforceable standard and this is not some constitutional violation. However, it remains a serious allegation of private censorship by the company.

In the end, how did this latest controversy help the company? If the joke was allowed, many would have barely noticed it and those who did would have given credit to the company for allowing such comedic criticism. Instead, Fox officials undermined their own programming and fulfilled stereotypes of a company that uses unacceptable means to maintain power.

Source: EW

13 thoughts on “Baldwin Accuses News Corp of Censoring Joke on Murdoch”

  1. “free speech” does not mean what so many seem to think it means. It means the government can not curtail our speech. Fox “News,” on the other hand, is a private enterprise, and so perfectly within its rights to approve or disapprove of anything it “says.” Nobody has a “right” to air their views on a privately-owned network, without the OK of the owners.

  2. A news corporation censoring….Oh my….I think the response Fox, redundant is an apt correlation….

  3. Two common threads with tyrants – first, they have no sense of humor. Second, they hate people who do & usually make the mistake of over reacting to humor thereby doing more damage than the original joke.

    Who the hell watches these lame awards shows? Who would have mentioned this silly little joke tomorrow if the Chief Operating Thug had not reacted so poorly?


    Alec Baldwin, a star of the NBC comedy “30 Rock,” had taped an opening skit for the show days in advance, and in it he had referenced the phone hacking scandal that has embroiled the News Corporation in Britain. When Fox decided to edit out the reference over the weekend, Mr. Baldwin asked that his appearance be cut altogether because he felt the edit might affect the flow of the entire segment. In a Twitter message on Thursday, Mr. Baldwin suggested that Fox had erred in its edit. He later wrote: “I think it would have made them look better. A little.”

    In the skit, Mr. Baldwin played the “president of television.” While on the phone with an unidentified colleague, he paused and said, “Rupert, is that you? I hear you breathing, Rupert!” The chairman and chief executive of the News Corporation is Rupert Murdoch.

  5. Gene,
    Censorship is not what Murdoch does best. Unless of course he is deleting data from other people’s phones. Murdoch and his fellow felons should be doing the perp walk by now.

  6. raff,

    I can’t imagine Fox would consider anything to be in bad taste. Have they ever watched their own lineup of shows? Not only are 90% of them in bad taste, but they taste bad as well.

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